Austin Country Club, Texas
Par 71, 7,043 Yards
Austin Country Club is located on a challenging Pete Dye-designed par 71 built in 1984 which overlooks Lake Austin. It has three par 5’s, four par 3’s and 11 par 4’s. The course has a lot of new features after being renovated last year. It now has deep pot bunkers, undulating turf and dramatic fairway falls and tree lined fairways. The front nine is on higher ground and has some elevated and hilly fairways with some of the tee shots being played over canyons and creeks.
The back nine is on flatter ground and runs along the picturesque Lake Austin. Some tee shots and approach shots will have to be played over the lake which should offer some excitement. There will be a bit of emphasis on accuracy here as there are a lot of pot bunkers scattered on the fairways and some are quite deep and penalizing. The greens are Bermuda and look to be fractionally bigger than usual. The main areas of focus here are driving accuracy, GIR, good matchplay experience and decent current form.
Format: (Taken from PGATOUR.com)
The 64-player Dell Match Play field will be divided into 16 four-player groups. Each group will play round-robin matches within their group on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (March 23, 24 and 25). The player with the best record in each of the four player groups advances to the Round of 16 for single-elimination match play (in the event of a two-way tie in a group, head-to-head match results will be used as the tiebreaker; a three-way tie will require a sudden-death stroke play hole by hole playoff).
Group Play (Round Robin) Matches: 18 hole matches played to either a conclusion or a halve (matches will not be extended beyond 18 holes).
- Wednesday, Round 1 – 32 matches (64 players)
- Thursday, Round 2 – 32 matches (64 players)
- Friday, Round 3 – 32 matches (64 players)
Players in the field are assigned a seed number for the competition determined by their position on the Official World Rankings, as of Monday the week of the tournament (March 21, 2016 – after the Arnold Palmer Invitational). The highest ranked player in the field Seed #1, and the lowest ranked player in the field Seed #64.
Players are then placed into four pools of 16 players:
- 1-16/Pool A
- 17-32/Pool B
- 33-48/Pool C
- 49-64/Pool D
The top 16 players will be the top player in each of the 16 groups. So the No. 1 seed is the top player in Group 1, No. 2 seed is the top player in Group 2 and so on.
The remaining players in each group will be picked randomly live on the Golf Channel as part of the Dell Match Play Draw show on Monday, March 21, at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Austin (more info below).
Rounds 1, 2 and 3 (Group Play): Players play 18 hole matches against each of the other players in their group. Matches played to either a conclusion or a halve. Matches all square after 18 holes are not extended. Points awarded to players based on results of each match as follows: Winner 1 point, Loser 0 point, Halved each player ½ point.
The player in each group with the highest point total at the end of group play advances to the 16-player, single-elimination matches. In the event two or more players in a group are equal with the highest point totals, a stroke play hole-by-hole playoff will determine the player that advances to the 16 player, single-elimination matches.
Group play hole-by-hole playoffs will be conducted after the matches in a group are complete and after all of the group play matches have started their third round match. Group play hole-by-hole playoffs will start on the first hole and play holes 1 through 18 in sequence repeated if necessary, until the player is determined who will advance to the elimination play matches.
*Single-elimination matches – 18 hole matches played to a conclusion. No halved matches. Matches all square after 18 holes will be extended until a winner is determined.
Round 4 (Saturday morning): Eight matches (16 players) – winners advance to round 5/quarter-final matches. Matches all square after 18 holes in round 4 extended on holes 10 through 18 and repeated if necessary.
Round 5 (Saturday afternoon): Four quarter-final matches (eight players) – winners advance to round 6 (semi-final) matches. Matches all square after 18 holes in rounds 5 are extended on holes 12 through 18 and repeated if necessary.
Round 6 (Sunday morning): Two semi-final matches (four players) – winners advance to the championship match, losers advance to match for third place. Matches all square after 18 holes in rounds 6 are extended on holes 12 through 18 and repeated if necessary.
Round 7 (Sunday afternoon): Match for third place (two players) and championship match (two players). Matches all square after 18 holes in rounds 7 are extended on holes 12 through 18 and repeated if necessary.
Jordan Spieth 12/1
The young Texan is playing on home turf and will have a lot of support here this week. He comes into this after taking last week off and should be fresh and ready to contend. Although he has gone off the boil a bit over his last few events, Spieth has played well this season with a T7 at the WGC HSBC Champions, solo fourth at The Hero World Challenge and a win at The Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He has had a couple of uncharacteristic performances recently finishing T17 at The Valspar and T18 at The WGC Cadillac but could bounce back strong this week.
He has a decent matchplay record over the last few years and also has a great record in Texas finishing solo second in The Texas Open last year, solo 10th in 2014 and a P2 in Houston last year. Spieth looks to have the game to suit this course ranking 13th in SGTTG, 22nd in SGP and first in par 4 scoring. After taking some time off and playing in front of a home crowd, Jordan could be the man to beat here on home turf.
Paul Casey 30/1
Casey has been back showing some good form over the last few weeks and comes here on the back of a T9 finish in Bay Hill last week. His Iron play in particular was superb and if the putter heated up a little bit he wouldn’t have been far away. He also had a good week in Doral finishing solo seventh at The WGC Cadillac which included two 68’s in round two and four. Casey ticks alot of boxes here statswise ranking ninth in GIR, 19th in SGTTG and 21st in par 4 scoring.
Casey played superb here last year and finished fifth after losing to Rory McIlroy on the 22nd hole. He has a great matchplay record and was a finalist in this event in 2009 and 2010. He also a former winner of The Volvo World Matchplay so he’s no stranger to this kind of format and is peaking in form at just the right time.
Danny Willett 35/1
Danny has been playing well over the last few months and had a great finish to the year with a T4 at The DP World Tour Championship followed by another T4 at The Nedbank. He began 2016 with a T54 in Abu Dhabi but bounced back with a win in Dubai at the start of February which included a 65,65,69 finish to post 19 under in total. He then had another superb performance at The WGC Cadillac to finish T3. He put himself in a great position to win but pulled his tee shot fractionally left on 18 into the water and got a bit unlucky.
He played superb here last year finishing third and only lost one match out of the six. The Englishman could suit this course and ranks 35th in GIR and 15th in strokes gained putting on the European Tour this season. With a solid performance here last year and great current form Danny looks great value here.
Marc Leishman 50/1
The Aussie played well last week in Bay Hill and only for a third round 74, he would have finished a hell of a lot better than T17. He has been showing glimpses of good form lately finishing T28 at The WGC Cadillac and T5 at The Northern Trust Open in Riviera shooting four steady rounds in the 60’s. Leishman has played well in this neck of the woods in the past finishing T3 in TPC Four Seasons at The Byron Nelson in 2014, T12 in 2013 and T3 in 2012.
He also played well here at The Matchplay in the past finishing ninth last year playing five matches and losing two and played well in The Presidents Cup winning two from two for the International Team. He ranks 15th in SGTTG, ninth in scrambling and third in par 4 scoring. With decent form lately and good matchplay form, Leishman looks good value here.
Final Selections –
Jordan Spieth 12/1 2pts EW
Paul Casey 30/1 1.5pts EW
Danny Willett 35/1 1.5pts EW
Marc Leishman 50/1 1pt EW
Total staked = 12 pts
Good luck and enjoy the golf,
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